Wyoming Libraries Get Endowment Fund
The Wyoming State House of Representatives voted 600 March 7 to pass the Public Library Endowment Challenge Program. The bill, S.F. 29, which passed the state senate February 21, establishes a $9.1-million endowment for the state’s 23 public library systems. Prior to approval, the Senate Appropriations Committee decreased the figure down from its original $25.3 million, but after two years of unsuccessful attempts to pass the legislation, many library supporters see the establishment of the endowment as the true victory.
“Libraries are the heart and soul of Wyoming’s small communities,” Rep. George Bagby (D-Rawlins) told the Billings Gazette March 4. “Let’s keep that heart beating.”
The endowment establishes three tiers designed to ensure that all county library foundations statewide will benefit. The county library foundations in the poorest areas would receive a $3 match for every $1 privately raised; library foundations in more affluent counties would receive a $2$1 match, and library foundations in the wealthiest counties a $1$1 match, according to a March 7 press release from Wyoming Library Association. Matching funds of up to $295,652 are available. Once the libraries receive the funds, they are free to use them in any way they see fit.
“This endowment is necessary for the future of Wyoming’s libraries’ infrastructure, and it looks like we’ve come a long way this session to establish that future,” Sen. Hank Coe (R-Park), a cosponsor of the bill, stated.